Mickey, Minnie and My First Bike

The weekly Five Minute Friday word prompt for this week is “experience.” 

Life is made up of experiences, isn’t it? Sometimes good, sometimes bad. Learning to drive, ride a bike, talk, college, first job, losing a job, etc.

A few years ago, I found myself in Anaheim California for one of my favorite continuing education events: the ELCA Youth Ministry Network Extravaganza or as it is affectionately called the “E!” It often occurs over Super Bowl weekend which it was that year.

Instead of watching the game, my friends and I headed to Disneyland which was only a few miles from our hotel. It was my first Disney experience ever. I was like a kid in a candy store. We watched the parades. My favorite was the Paint the Night parade. We rode on many rides. My friends took me on the Its a Small World ride. I can still hear the music playing in my ears. I got my first timers pin. We looked through many tourist shops. I bought a Mickey tshirt. We laughed and laughed and laughed. It’s an experience I’ll never forget.

I also remember the first time I rode my first bike. I didn’t even have training wheels. My friends put me on the bike and pushed me. I fell a few times but got right back up. By the end of the day, I was riding my bike alone…never needing training wheels. Another neat experience.

What is a fun experience you remember?

Penning Words

The weekly Five Minute Friday word prompt for this week is “talent.” 

“Mom, Are you ok?”

You’ve been in bed all day.

Is there anything I can do?

Mom, are you sad?

Are you mad?

Or are you glad?

I want you back

The mom who would play with me

Read to me

Laugh with me

Instead of just lay in bed.

Can a doctor heal you?

Give you medicine to make you feel

So much better.

Some call you crazy

Others call you lazy

But you are neither

You are a beloved child of God!

I love to write. I would call it a talent. My new goal is to write a children’s book about mental illness. This is a very first draft. What do you think? What’s missing?


Accompaniment=”an instrumental or vocal part designed to support or complement a melody; an addition (such as an ornament) intended to give completeness or symmetry to something.” (Merriam-Webster Dictionary)

In music, it is the accompaniment that brings life to the piece as the melody comes to life. Accompaniment is also what makes something whole. Accompaniment is not to be alone but rather walk alongside.

Since October, I’ve been patiently waiting for God to show me what’s next. Despite interviewing several places, God hasn’t led me to that right place yet. Because of this reason, I almost didn’t attend the ELCA Children, Youth and Family Network Extravaganza or as it is affectionately called the “E.” Yet I went because I knew it is where I needed to be.

The Extravaganza is such a gift. I sat and chatted with so many colleagues and friends and processed through the last several months. My friend Laurie made me this magnificent gift. I left feeling so at peace.

But it’s not just the Extravaganza, but the network too. The Network allows each of us to walk alongside and accompany one another through life’s joys and sorrows. Since October, I’ve gotten emails, phone calls, texts and so much more reminding me that I am not on this journey alone,

I have sat with colleagues as we said goodbye to our friend at his funeral. Our lives connected through the Network. I have grieved alongside other colleagues as they have said goodbye to their children way too early. I have celebrated with others too. The Network weaves together this beautiful tapestry that connects us through time and space.

The Network is being church together. It is a place where we are reminded that we are never alone. The Network and the E have been a gift to me in more ways than I can count or even imagine. Thank You dear people for accompanying me on this never ending, uncertain journey of where God maybe calling me next. I know I am not alone but am being accompanied through prayer, laughter, tears and the Network! And that’s enough…..more than enough!


The weekly Five Minute Friday word prompt for this week is “relief.” 

When I first heard the word prompt I had to get my mind out of the gutter. All I could think of was relieving ourselves in the bathroom. Little kids learning to potty train. Babies and diapers. Laughing so hard that you have to pee your pants.

Once I got that out of my mind, I was able to move onto a different kind of relief. Relief that comes in beautiful and holy ways.

An infant in my arms


Laughter in the midst of tears


Joy in the midst of sorrow


Hope in new beginnings


Playful kitties


Great music or movies


“Weeping comes for the night, but joy comes with the morning.”

Relief found in peace

Peace that only God can bring

But sometimes that peace

That relief isn’t enough

Or comes too late

Or isn’t seen

Please pray for our community

A 7th grader committed suicide outside our middle school earlier this week. From what I understand, he posted it all to SnapChat. My heart aches so deeply that our youth are having to deal with this earlier and earlier.

For God So Loved

The weekly Five Minute Friday word prompt for this week is “sacrifice.”

“For God so loved the world…”

An infant son

Born to save the world


God with us

“For God so loved the world…”


A game changer

Table turning

Lover of all people

“For God so loved the world….”


On a hill on Calvary
Shouts out

My God My God

Why have you forsaken me?

Then Jesus breathes his last

Blood shed

A sacrifice given for us all

“For God so loved the world…”


Risen from the grave

Sent by God for us

“For God so loved the world

God gave Gods only begotten son

That whoever believes in him

Shall not perish but have everlasting life.”

A Conglomeration of Directions

The weekly Five Minute Friday word prompt for this week is “direction.” It is so good to be back here after a break over the holidays.

North, south, east, west

Up, down, sideways, backwards

Directions lead us along the journey of life, but often that journey is not as clear cut as we would like. There are times I wish God would put traffic signs to tell me what’s next…

Yield, merge, stop, go.

Directions are all around us. I love following a recipe to try something new. I’m in love with JoAnna Gaines cookbook Magnolia Table. I can’t wait for her new one; the next edition to come out in the Spring.

Last night though, I went back to my German Russian roots and made knoephla hotdish (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Knoephla). I also love it as a soup. A casserole dish, knoephla, bacon, sausage, chicken broth, cream and pepper. Bake at 350 for 30 minutes. It’s better with onions, sauerkraut, and potatoes. I left out the onions and sauerkraut because my sister doesn’t like them. I simply forgot to pick up potatoes at the store. Oops! But it was still yummy!

Breaking Way to Light

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through him, and without him not one thing came into being. What has come into being in him was life, and the life was the light of all people. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it.”—John 1:1-5

The days are slowly becoming lighter out longer….minute by minute. This time of year one cannot help but be reminded by the darkness in our world. Darkness that surrounds so many with the darkness of mental health issues. Darkness that comes from death. Darkness that comes from war and the potential of war. Darkness that comes in so many ways. Yet the darkness cannot and does not overcome the light of Emmanuel; God with us.

There were so many days from October of 2017 to December 2018 that I could not catch my breath; that it truly felt like the darkness was winning. But then slowly, the darkness broke way to light as the sun rose on a new day. That sun born in the Son of Emmanuel; God with us.

IIn a manger, in Bethlehem, Jesus cries pierced the darkness of that holy night as Mary birthed her son; the Messiah, the one who came to save . The wisemen followed a light; the star, to bring him gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. And years later, Jesus breathes his last on that hill on Calvary. Only for the women to come early the next morning, the light of the morning sun leading their way, to find an empty tomb.

Darkness can so easily take over. But you only need a little light to see. Think about it. In the midst of a power outage, you only need a few candles to take away the darkness a little. Or during a dark winter night, you only need your cars headlights to be able to see.

Darkness bears way for light. Yet one must first have darkness for the light to be born. I’m reminded of the Japanese art form of kintsugi. In kintsugi, they take a piece of broken pottery and put it back together. Then they place gold lacquer over the cracks because it’s the place where the light gets through. The truth is we are all human and we have and will experience times of darkness but because of God’s love for us, Jesus comes to overcome the darkness.

I know this because death comes but new life will too. I know this because I’ve seen resurrection take place. I know this because my Lenten weary roads have led me to Easter morning. I know this because I’ve witnessed the beauty of light breaking through the darkness to create a sunrise only God’s master hand could create.

The darkness in our world will not triumph. The light is the promise of Emmanuel; God with us, the Word made flesh for each and everyone of us…..

“For the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness does not overcome it.”

Holy Healing Work

I’ve always been a crier. In fact, I’ve been known to cry at Hallmark commercials. However, there is something holy about tears that come from the reality of loss and grief. 2018 was filled with its share of tears. However 2019 also had its fair share of shed tears. There were days that the tears were still wet upon my face. Yet I came out of 2019 more whole than when I went into it.

Becoming whole again takes hard work. It means getting the proper care no matter what that looks like. It could be medicine or simply chatting with a professional. But most of all, it means trusting in the Great Physician…God our Father.

I went into 2019 ready to do some hard holy healing work. Yet it often came in unexpected ways. When I was asked to attend Shepherds Canyon, everything in me clenched up and didn’t want to go. I went reluctantly. Yet I was so blessed by that place and my new friends. There is something holy in knowing you are never alone. Tears streamed down my face as I laid my rock with the words of things that I would leave behind at the foot of the altar. I was leaving behind fear.

I didn’t know that months later I would find myself wondering what God was up too. There were days I loved my job. But then the joy was lost…and then simply gone. Change was afoot and I found myself walking away knowing it was the healthiest thing for me.

I still don’t know what’s next. Yet I am at peace. I’m stronger and much more whole than when I went into 2019. And I know that with hard work, transformation will come as the healing continues. Healing that produces beautiful holy tears! Holy tears that remind me that this journey is never done alone.

Giving Birth to Transformation

“Beautiful are those who brokenness gives birth to transformation and wisdom.”—John Mark Green

2019 was all about healing; healing from so much loss and grief but from healing comes transformation (http://prayingontheprairie.net/from-healing-to-transformation/) So 2020 will be all about transformation. When I think about transformation, I think of a cocoon bursting forth into a beautiful butterfly. Transformation takes time. It’s, as a friend shared in her one word post, about becoming.

One Word 2020

2020 will be the year of becoming and being fully who God created me to be. In fact, transformation is about discovery. It’s about fully discovering who God created me to be as a beloved child of God! I will fly and soar into using my gifts to the best of my ability. I will live into fulfilling my deepest desires.

The truth is becoming and transformation are all about living into the reality that the only constant is change. “The wings of transformation are born of patience and struggle (Anonymous).” In other words, transformation comes about when we are patient and fully trust who God is in the midst of life’s struggles.

I’m not sure what this year will look like but I trust that God will mold and transform my life into something so beautiful. God will show me that from death comes resurrection. I’m once again reminded of one of my all time favorite quotes by Clarence W Hall “Easter says you can put death in the grave, but it won’t stay there.”

Transformation is letting the work happen and not confining it. In the words of Romans 12:2, “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your minds, so that you may discern what is the will of God—what is good and acceptable and perfect.”

All the Books 2019

I have always been a lover of books. This year I read 25 books. I was hoping for more but not too bad. This is my annual post where I share about some of my faves. Here’s my top ten! (Followed by the list of the rest of what I read this year)

Remember God by Annie F Downs—I love everything of hers that she has written. But this read was so much more. The words woven onto the page were incredible. In a lot of ways this book was so mature and grown up as Annie reminds us to trust and remember God.

Inheritance by Nikki Kapsambelis—If you know anyone who is struggling with Alzheimer’s in their life, this book is a must read. Heartbreakingly beautiful. This is based on the true story of a family where most of the family ended up with the gene and were some of the first to be tested.

Becoming by Michelle Obama—This memoir was so so good. I loved learning about her journey as the First Lady and so much more. Michelle shares personal details and how she found her voice. I also love what she shares about being a mom, her own public health campaign and so much more.

Inspired: Slaying Giants, Walking on Water and Loving the Bible Again by Rachel Held Evans—I didn’t want to put this book down. It was especially hard after losing a Rachel. I’m so thankful for her words and that they carry on in her books. This one was a favorite! I took so many notes that my copy is very marked up. It helped me to see the Bible even more beautifully.

Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng—This was fantastic! I fell in love with the characters and they are still with me to this day. I didn’t want this story to end. You’ll just have to pick it up for yourself to see what I’m talking about.

Love Big: The Power of Revolutionary Relationships to Heal the World—This is Rozella’s first book. I first heard her speak at an ELCA Youth Gathering. Rozella is a life and leadership coach as part of her company RHW Consulting. This book is a gift as it invites all of us to fall more deeply in love with ourselves.

Dear Church: A Love Letter from a black preacher to whitest denomination in the US by Lenny Duncan—This book truly challenged me especially as a leader in the ELCA. Duncan writes in a way that is very thought provoking and gets me thinking deeply about how others see this church. I found myself realizing my own white privilege as he writes about his own struggles. I think too often we have a hard time seeing our own sins and this book opened my eyes even more to what my race has done to others.

The God who Sees: Immigrants, the Bible and the Journey to Belong by Karen Gonzalez—Another book that challenged me. She opened my eyes to new interpretations of specific stories especially in the Old Testament.

Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens—This is one of my favorite reads EVER!! It kept my attention all through its over 300 pages. It is stunningly written. I fell deeply in love with the characters in this book. This story is so breathtakingly written and captured as the story unfolds on the pages. I just found out it’s being made into a movie but for the love….please read it first!

Before We Were Yours by Lisa Wingate—I will start by saying there is a little content warning as there are some elusions/stories of abuse in this book. The storyline is intense but is also beautiful. It often took me by surprise. It’s based in a true story about the Tennessee Children’s Home Society. It reminded Me of the reality of many of the challenges children in our world experience every day.

The rest of the list:

I’m Still Here: Black Dignity in a World made for Whiteness by Austin Channing Brown

Everybody Always by Bob Goff

You are a Enough by Mandy Hale
Anxious for Nothing by Max Lucado
Dare to Lead by Brene Brown
Small Great Things by Jodi Picoult
Seven by Jen Hatmaker
Searching for Sunday by Rachel Held Evans (a reread)
Spark of Light by Jodi Picoult

Big Magic:Creative Living Beyond Fear by Elizabeth Gilbert (another reread)
I See You: How Love opens our eyes to Invisible People by Terence Lester
Ruins and Kingdoms by Jen Rose Yokel
God’s Country by Brad Roth
The Road Back to You by Ian Morgan Cron and Suzanne Stabile

Currently Reading: Educated by Tara Westover

After reading my friend K’s post, I’ve add some Frederick Bachman books and Light in the Distant Stars. What else do I need to read?